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Second innings: Forgotten man Som Bahadur Pun eager to pass on boxing lessons

“Now, I’m not overwhelmed by victory nor broken down by loss. Because in life,you never know where you’ll wake up tomorrow.

Published: 19th August 2021 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2021 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

Som Bahadur Pun

Som Bahadur Pun

Express News Service

CHENNAI: “Now, I’m not overwhelmed by victory nor broken down by loss. Because in life,you never know where you’ll wake up tomorrow. Today I may be a champion, but tomorrow, I may be nobody.” Som Bahadur Pun told this reporter in 2004 after recovering from Tuberculosis.

His words now sound prophetic. Commonwealth Games silver medal in Manchester (2002), six national titles and a few international medals could have been part of an impressive Wikipedia page. On the contrary, there is none. He and his exploits faded into obscurity. 

After years of battle with life and mind, the pugilist is pursuing a new dream. “I want to give back to the sport as a coach and help train champions,” he said. He was part of the coaching staff at the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak where the youth and junior boxers were practicing. To the uninitiated, Pun won a silver medal at the same 2002 Commonwealth Games where Mohammad Ali Qamar won gold, first ever for India.  

But with Pun, fate played dice with his life. In 2003, he had tuberculosis. He took almost a year to recover. He was crushed but, like a wounded boxer, tried to stagger to his feet and stand. He finally did in 2004. He managed to get into the 2006 Commonwealth Games in 64kg but could not impress. In 2007 he had another serious bout of illness: jaundice and neurocysticercosis (central nervous system disorder due to tapeworm larva infection). By 2008, he had his last bout at the international level at 27. Later, he dabbled with pro boxing in 2017 more out of passion than vocation.

Only solace Pun found was in sport. Boxing is the only qualification he possessed and coaching was all that he could think of. “Because boxing is the only thing I know... thought coaching was the best way to give back to the sport,” he said. “I feel very nice that I can teach the same thing I learnt to a youngster. I can help with someone in his career.” 

He finished his National Institute of Sports programme in 2014-15. He started coaching from 2010 and coached teams of Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura in between. Now, he is part of the youth men’s coaching team. “There were a lot of ups and downs in life but I learnt to fight it,” said Pun, who works with the Gorkha Training Centre as a Junior Commissioned Officer. Pun’s struggles with life were epochal but he has endured them all. “Sports teaches you that. There is always a second chance,” he said. 

The Boxing Federation of India had been promoting homegrown coaches and former players have already been inducted in various stages. His teammate in Manchester, Ali Qamar, does have a wikipedia page and is the senior women’s chief national coach. It took time for Pun to reach the national camp but he is happy to have got a chance with the national team. “I was here last February but the camp got cancelled and this year I joined the camp end of last month,” he said. “Things have changed and I can say that the scientific approach and infrastructure have definitely improved from our time,” said Pun, whose biggest regret was not being part of an Olympic team. Now he harbours hope of producing one who could win a medal at the Olympics.

Flight on hold
Pun, along with other coaches (youth, junior) and pugilists, were supposed to leave for Dubai for the Asian youth and junior boxing championships (due to start from August 20) on Wednesday. But they couldn’t due to improper Covid report document. They are expected to leave on Thursday.



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